Imagine a diverse group of women who “mobilize together across differences and politics to challenge systemic and intimate violence in a dystopian…democracy marred by white supremacy & capitalist patriarchy,” writes activist and artist Rex Renee Leonowicz (@rexylafemme).
Is Leonowicz describing the Women’s March? Or…the ultra-low budget ’80s indy sci-fi mockumentary Born in Flames (1983)? Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner.
Perhaps, but according to Leonowicz, the film, three decades later, is equally relevant and resonant in today’s (i.e., Trump’s) America.
“It always makes me feel empowered, moved to act, moved to envision new, old, and creative ways to resist on the ground,” Leonowicz wrote me. “It’s also just great to see a motley crew of women kicking ass, taking names, and winning.”
Looking for information and inspiration to mount your own political or social resistance? Below, 10 activists and organizers across cause spaces recommend films to help you take a stand against oppression and injustice, wherever you are. Welcome to the Resistance Movie Club: sit back, relax, and revolt.
The Black Power Mixtape
“This documentary features so many amazing and intimate interviews with some of the most important activists and revolutionaries of the Black Power Movement. It’s rich with information but it’s also a powerful look at racism in America and the fight to resist.” – Pilar Barreyro, DoSomething.org
The Internet’s Own Boy
“[The Internet’s Own Boy] follows the story of an important internet freedom activist, and covers the new frontiers we’ll need to defend for the future of all humanity…It is an important story about a lesser known but increasingly vital movement to protect digital rights.” – Remy DeCausemaker (@Remy_D), DevProgress, Hillary for America
The Mask You Live In
“This movie is an excellent resource for anyone wanting to know what it is like to be a man in modern America, what exactly ‘toxic masculinity’ is, and how it all influences our culture…The movie shows you what effects our ideas of masculinity have had not only on boys, but on men as well.” – Alyssa VanSkyock (@alyssavanskyock), Gamma Rho Lambda
“As an Iranian-American living during a time of Trump’s ban, the movie in and of itself represents resistance. [The film won] this year’s Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, but [director Asghar Farhadi] boycotted the ceremony and instead used the platform of his acceptance speech to speak out against Trump’s travel ban and the way it affects Iranian immigrants. That’s powerful.” – Carmen Daneshmandi (@carmendaneshmandi), photographer
“Kumu Hina is a powerful film that centers Native Hawaiian existence, cultural traditions and kumu (teacher) Hina, who is a proud māhū, or transgender woman. This film is important during this time, because it disrupts westernized colonization of Hawai’i, to center Kumu Hina’s existence as a trans woman and cultural leader who is actively revitalizing Native Hawaiian language and tradition.” – Selena Velasco (@tendervirgo), Families Of Color Seattle
Paris Is Burning
“[Paris Is Burning] is look into gay, trans, and drag culture in the ’80s/’90s specifically focused on LGBT people of color in Harlem…[My favorite thing about Paris Is Burning] is that it is so eye-opening to me even as a gay man. We like to think we’re ‘woke’ but being a white man means I always have things to learn.” – Drew Penkala (@drewpenkala), activist and YouTuber
A Good Day to Die
“[A Good Day to Die] is a film that tells a powerful Native American story that many don’t know or don’t know much about. This film will be especially moving for those who were inspired by the incredible Standing Rock movement.” – Nancy Treviño (@nancirulia), Power U Center for Social Change
“It’s important to watch during this moment in history because it explains our patriarchal society and how there aren’t enough women in leadership positions and what changes when women are in those positions…My favorite thing about this movie is how well it explains oppression that happens in our society, so it’s easy for people to understand it who are new to the movement.” – Ally McKeone (@allymckeone), formerly Hillary for America, currently University of Iowa
The Imitation Game
“It offers an alternative view of how WWII fascism was resisted (through tech!)…The main protagonist, Alan Turing, was both defeating the Nazis and being persecuted by his own country. The movie is overall uplifting and touches on both social and technical issues.” – Jess Lee (@jessleenyc), The Practical Dev
“While not about the US, I think it is a perfect example of the right way to voice opposition to popular support of a military buildup, thinking about the long-run repercussions and the moral/human element to any action taken by our armed forces…I first saw this in 2012, and re-watched it again recently as the US slow walks its way into new conflicts with undefined goals. In just two hours, it walks the viewer from national defense and the moral high ground, to mission creep and disillusionment, to a place where conflict seems permanent. If only certain members of the White House could be convinced to watch this movie.” – Jake Mikva, GoodWerk